Bookinou launches a loan offer for teachers

21 June 2023


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One satisfied user is worth two. Bookinou has understood this – since the beginning of June, the Lyon-based start-up has been offering a loan campaign aimed at teachers. The aim was to give them the opportunity to test the Bookinou storyteller and validate its pedagogical virtues in helping 2-7 year-olds learn to read.

Since its creation, Bookinou has helped over 300,000 children. With just a few weeks to go before the end of the lending period for teachers, we catch up with Vincent Gunther and Guillaume Chanteloube – the two co-founders of Bookinou – to hear their story.

The genesis

Although the subject of education brings them together, Vincent and Guillaume didn’t meet on the school benches. The former is a graduate of Grenoble Ecole de Management, while the latter studied at the EPSI computer engineering school.

During his studies, Vincent co-founded the Roots’n’Culture solidarity association, whose annual festival collects foodstuffs which participants use to pay their admission. Logically, Vincent began his career in 2005 in the entertainment industry, working on social and community projects. As for Guillaume, he finds himself a partner in several start-ups, where he puts his technical expertise to good use. In 2009, he co-founded “Espace Météo”, a collaborative website bringing together various weather-related services.

The pair formed in 2015 at Shoops, a mobile app that connects its users with local businesses. At the time, they were salaried employees, but both shared an entrepreneurial spirit. Guillaume’s wife, a speech therapist, is confronted on a daily basis with the different challenges of reading for very young children, while Vincent is expecting his second daughter and understands the problem perfectly.

The epic

It’s 2018 and the Bookinou adventure begins. Both men know that the more books you read to children, the more they love to read. Their mission is clear: to give children a taste for reading thanks to a reading companion, a storyteller of books for children aged 2 to 7.

Like many start-ups, Bookinou was launched following a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule. With over 700 participants and 45,000 euros raised, the initial target was exceeded by more than 400%.

The euphoria of the launch is giving way to a long industrialization phase, before the first Bookinou can be marketed in 2019. It’s now a reality: parents record the story of their choice using an application, and stick a sticker on the book. For the children, the magic happens: it’s the voice of their loved ones that comes out of the little blue storyteller.

Concept validation and positioning

In 2020, Vincent and Guillaume witness a phenomenon they had not anticipated. More and more teachers are taking Bookinou from the bedroom into the classroom. For them, the storyteller is a powerful tool for encouraging children to learn to read from an early age. Of course, the two co-founders wanted to offer their solution to schools, but “working with the French Ministry of Education was something of a headache,” recalls Vincent.

Yet on social networks, teachers are talking about Bookinou. Laurence Le Corf, kindergarten director, is one of them. Vincent contacts her to talk for hours and understand what drives her.

“Laurence, like many teachers, shared with us invaluable advice. She sees Bookinou as a pedagogical tool to help young children learn to read independently”, says Vincent Gunther.

Word of mouth is spreading. Nearly 1,000 teachers bring the storyteller into their daily lives. It was also the birth of the gang des maîtresses – a group of teachers who select the best of children’s publishing for the Bookinou community according to very strict criteria.

The two co-founders listen, learn and practice. In doing so, they gain the trust of teachers. ” School is not there to keep children busy, it’s all a question of pedagogy,” Vincent reminds us.

The crowning achievement came in 2021, when Bookinou received the backing of the French Ministry of Education. The storyteller integrates perfectly with state programs, adapting to different educational projects thanks to new uses.

Encouraged by this support, Vincent and Guillaume enlisted the help of cognitive science researchers to study the impact of Bookinou. “Inequalities at school still exist, but disparities are halved when children in difficulty have better access to reading”. Books as a means to social advancement.

The team also includes an educational consultant from the French Ministry of Education. This recruitment enables them to go even further in supporting teachers, with the introduction of activity kits to help children rapidly acquire language skills.

In 2022, Bookinou will be moving up a gear by integrating two gas pedals: Passerelles, for EdTech solutions supported by Banque des Territoires, and the educational innovation gas pedal of Réseau Canopé, the teacher training network.

Working hand in hand with the French Ministry of Education, Vincent and Guillaume have now mastered the theory. Now it’s time to put them into practice: to speed up their development, teachers must be able to test the storyteller.

Loan offer for teachers

Lending to teachers is an obvious choice. The observation is simple: teachers need to test to validate the pedagogical interest .

“In the hardware world, getting a product tested on such a large scale can be complicated, but we want to play the game to the hilt. We’re convinced that teachers will make Bookinou their own, but for that to happen, two conditions must be met: firstly, the test must be open to all, and secondly, it must last long enough to form an opinion.” explains Vincent.

Bookinou’s new lending service for teachers marks the start of a new chapter. Vincent and Guillaume break the rules of the recommended duration of free trials in start-ups. To take into account the constraints and pedagogical freedom of teachers, the test period will be 4 months to exploit the full potential of the storyteller.


The project was launched in early June. More than 500 schools have already ordered the Bookinou boxed set, paying the symbolic €15 shipping cost. For the others, the clock is ticking until July 15 for delivery before the start of the new school year. It’s going to be a busy summer for the ten or so talented members of the Bookinou team. When Vincent and Guillaume shared the action plan with them, they all said: I dare you!

Selena Miniscalco


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